The Joy Luck Club Questions and Answers
by Amy Tan

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How is the external setting of "A Pair of Tickets" essential to what happens internally to the narrator in the course of The Joy Luck Club?

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The narrator physically going to China in "A Pair of Tickets" represents her internal change as she begins to accept her Chinese heritage and that side of herself in contrast to her American upbringing in California.

When Jing-mei goes to Guangzhou, she's planning to visit her father's family. Next, she'll fly to Shanghai and meet the twin half-sisters she's never met before. Throughout her part of The Joy Luck Club, Jing-mei fights with her mother Suyuan as they try to bridge the cultural and experiential gap between them.

Amy Tan writes:

The minute our train leaves the Hong Kong border and enters Shenzhen, China, I feel different. I can feel the skin on my forehead tingling, my blood rushing through a new course, my bones aching with a familiar old pain. And I think, My mother was right. I am becoming Chinese.

Though her mother is dead, her visit to China and to meet her half-sisters is what finally bridges...

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mkcapen1 | Student

The external setting in the story is the trip to China and this is an elemental theme in the book.  The narrator has not been raised in China and never had been able to relate to the Chinese way of life or felt Chinese.

The narrator's journey in the chapter takes her to a place she had never been before and her journey is inward as well as external.  As she sees the relationships and the style of life, she is able to have a look at the way her mother and father had been raised and why they thought and felt different than she  did when she was growing up.

Being able to witness the customs and the Chinese experience for her enables her to better relate to things her mother had said to her as she was growing up.  She is able to begin to build a connection to her heritage.